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  • Writer's pictureDeepak Narayanan

Starting blocks and stumbling blocks

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

Saw some interesting points of view on when live sport will be back – especially two extreme ones that popped up this week.

Writing in Sports Illustrated, Stephanie Apstein makes a compelling argument that sports aren’t coming back soon.

At the other end of the spectrum, Florida changed the status of the World Wrestling Entertainment from non-essential to essential service, opening the doors for them to resume Live broadcasts.

“We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times,” the WWE said in a statement. “We are producing content on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance following appropriate guidelines while taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff.”

Let’s not get into the debate on whether WWE is sport or not (or at least, let’s leave that for another day!). This discussion around playing sport behind closed doors is one that has been debated across the world – from the EPL to the IPL – as leagues try and figure out how the show can go on.

Most of these proposals revolve around the same basic premise – use of a single venue, players and officials all under quarantine, daily testing, etc.

Can sport be played in such a bubble?

For a moment, forget the whole discussion about whether sport is played for fans in the stadium or those at home, and how much those fans add to the watching-at-home experience.

Apstein seeks medical opinion to build this NFL scenario: “All right, so the 14-day period is over and everyone has tested negative at least twice. Now they are allowed to begin spending time around one another—but not too much time. If one person gets it, he or she will begin spreading it immediately, so everyone will have to continue practicing social distancing. That probably means using a new ball for each play. It probably means seating players in stands rather than on benches or in dugouts. It certainly means banning high-fives.”

It feels like it’ll be too weird. I mean, imagine a batsman asking silly point to take two steps back because social distancing, bro. Or a goal being ruled out because VAR finds that the striker’s N95 mask was two inches offside. It’s borderline dystopian, no?

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